Topic A: Ensuring Local Press Freedoms
Restricting local press freedom has become commonplace in nearly all Sub-Saharan states. Many conservative leaders view radical journalists, especially those trained in western ideas of individual freedom, as threats to their power. Calling for change and checks and balances to corrupted state governments, journalists are viewed as enemies. As such, states like Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania have recently implemented laws that restrict press freedom, despite previously having laws that promoted quite the opposite. Even more alarming, in states in the midst of civil war and instability, such as Burundi, journalists are beaten, imprisoned, and killed against their own wills. Issa Lohé Konaté, a journalist from Burkina Faso, stated, “When you don’t speak the same language as the authorities, it’s as if they think you don’t have a right to speak at all.” The dire state of human rights violations, coupled with corrupted state power, must be investigated in depth, and the African Union will be looking into solutions that will widen the path towards greater freedom of the press. This committee will investigate a wide range of issues: the level of freedom of the press in African states, the role of social networks and access to the internet as channels of communication, and safety measures for journalists on a broader scale.
Topic B: Combating Poaching
Poaching, by definition, is the illegal capturing or killing of wild plants and animals. In recent years, there has been a surge in the number of wild animals illegally killed every year, particularly in South Africa. This is largely due to an increased demand for products made from a single body part of the poached animal, such as tusks, pelt, or bones. These items are often believed to possess special curing abilities or are simply used as symbols of status by wealthy individuals. As a result, species like the black rhino have become critically endangered, with a population that has decreased by over 97% since 1960. The majority of poaching of African wildlife is carried out by organized crime syndicates.
It is estimated that poaching costs African economies up to USD 2 billion annually across the entire continent, in addition to being extremely detrimental to biodiversity. In the past, the African Union has addressed this crisis through a variety of efforts; for example, an Africa-wide draft strategy and action plan during the International Conference on Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora, and a guide for African governments to stop declining iconic species and poaching at the Sixth Special Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN). Despite these efforts, there is still much to achieve. The African Union will explore the root of why poaching still exists, dive more deeply into the action plans, and examine strategies of implementation as the next concrete step to prevention. Delegates will discuss cultural and social issues as well as the environmental impact of poaching.